News Release

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
For immediate release

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Jenni Bullington, UTD
(972) 883-4431
[email protected] 


UTD Electrical Engineering Professor Wins
National Science Foundation Career Award

Grant Is Given to Top-Performing Junior Faculty

RICHARDSON, Texas (Feb. 21, 2002) - Dr. Mehrdad Nourani, assistant professor of electrical engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been granted a Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his work with Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits, particularly focusing on self-testing methods for high-speed chip interconnects.

The award, worth more than $389,000 over the next five years, is part of the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development program. The Career Award is the NSF’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members and recognizes and supports the activities of the teachers and scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are selected on the basis of creative early career development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their respective institutions.

The VLSI chips Nourani researches essentially are microelectronic circuits with millions of tiny transistors. Such sophisticated chips, often referred to as System-on-Chip (SoC), are used in numerous applications - including computers, cars, airplanes and communication and robotic systems - to perform control and data processing functions.

Nourani’s studies are dedicated to developing new design techniques and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools for incorporating self-testing features into SoC interconnects, that is, the “wires” that connect various chip’s sub-systems, known as cores.

Nourani’s research, which will be conducted with the assistance of faculty and students in UTD’s Center for Integrated Circuits and Systems in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, is important because transistors and interconnects must be tested prior to shipment to ensure reliability. However, thorough testing often is very difficult and time-consuming due to the small size and complexity of the chips. A self-testing option implanted within the chip - also known as a Built-In Self-Test, or BIST - would enable a solution in spite of these difficulties.

“I am honored the NSF recognizes the importance of my work in SoC testing,” Nourani said. “According to the Semiconductor Industry Association roadmap, test costs will dominate design expenses in the near future, and most existing test methodologies don’t have enough muscle to do the job. My research offers an on-chip mechanism to test interconnects against all phenomena that distort signals travelling among cores, making it a better, more complete option.”

“We are proud to once again have a member of UTD’s Jonsson School faculty win the prestigious NSF Career Award,” said Dr. Andrew Blanchard, executive director of industry-university relations and senior associate dean of the Jonsson School. “Mehrdad’s work with VLSI circuits is groundbreaking and undoubtedly critical to the future of chip-based technologies.”

Nourani also plans to make use of his findings in educational applications. In particular, he hopes to advocate for better CAD tools in the classroom and greater student exposure to high-frequency design and test issues.

In addition to SoC testing, Nourani is interested in research related to designs for testability, signal integrity fault modeling and testing, application specific processors, high-level synthesis and low-power design methodologies.

Prior to joining UTD, Nourani served in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Tehran in Iran.

A member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and the Association for Computing Machinery, he completed his doctorate in computer engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

The NSF established the CAREER program in 1995 to help top-performing scientists and engineers early in their careers continue their commitment to research and education. Career Awards are bestowed each year to approximately 400 junior faculty members at universities across the country. Awards typically range in amount from $200,000 to $500,000 and in duration from four to five years.

Begun in 1950, the NSF was created to promote and advance progress in science and engineering research education in the United States. The NSF supports all fields of science, mathematics and engineering and is an independent federal agency that does not fall under any cabinet department.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor , enrolls approximately 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s Web site at

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This page last updated
August 15, 2002